Long Beach Climbs Back Into Playoff Race

Long Beach has climbed back into the race for the National Conference’s final berth in the Kelly Cup Playoff after going 6-3-0 on a nine-game road trip, including 4-1-0 in the last five games.

The Ice Dogs are 19-27-3 and in 10th place with 41 points which is six points behind eighth-place Victoria (23-29-1) and two points in back of Utah (19-27-5). Long Beach will host league leader Alaska (36-13-3) on Friday and Saturday and Fresno (26-20-4) on Sunday. In the only meeting between Alaska and Long Beach this season the Aces won 6-3 on Jan. 19 to improve to 18-5-1 all-time against the Ice Dogs. Long Beach won its last game against Fresno 3-2 on the road in a shootout on Jan. 23, but trails 2-4-0 in the season series, including 1-1-0 at home, and is 16-12-3 all-time against the Falcons.

The Salmon Kings host Pacific Division leader Las Vegas (28-10-12) on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Looking to reach the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time since joining the league in 2004-05, Victoria posted its first-ever three-game sweep last week against Stockton to improve to 4-1-0 in the last five games and 9-3-0 in its last 12 games. The Salmon Kings have won their last three games against Las Vegas, including an overtime win and a shootout win, and are 3-1-0 in the season series and 4-11-2 all-time against the Wranglers.

Utah will host Idaho (27-18-4) on Monday before traveling to Idaho on Friday and Saturday. The Grizzlies are 1-1-0 at home and 1-3-1 in the season series with Idaho. The Steelheads, who are 7-2-2 in their last 11 games, are in second place in the West Division and fourth in the conference with 58 points (27-18-4) which is two points ahead of Fresno (26-20-4) and four points in front of Stockton (21-16-10).

Going 9-2-3 in its last 14 games, Las Vegas has 68 points and leads Bakersfield, which is 10-1-3 in its last 14 games, by two points for the Pacific Division lead. The Condors, who are 6-0-1 in the last seven games, play at Fresno on Monday, at Stockton on Wednesday before meeting Phoenix for the first time this season at Phoenix on Friday and at home on Saturday. Bakersfield has won the last five meetings to improve to 5-0-1 against the Falcons, including 1-0-1 at Fresno. The Condors have won their last two games against the Thunder to improve to 3-2-0, including 2-1-0 at Stockton.